MCLAUGHLIN, S.D. -- Teach for America has formed a partnership with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to recruit tribal members to become teachers in reservation schools.
The organization will work with Sitting Bull College to find graduates willing to spend two years teaching in South Dakota schools on the reservation, said Jim Curran, executive director of Teach for America - South Dakota.
Some reservation schools have few Native American teachers on their staffs. Teach for America, which operates in two schools on Standing Rock, aims to have half its South Dakota corps made up of Native Americans by 2020, Curran said.
The organization wants at least one-third of its South Dakota corps to be enrolled members of the state's tribes. Other Native American teachers could come from tribes outside the state.
"Having a teacher with the same racial identity can add a different type of affirmation and inspiration for kids," Curran said.
Currently, no members of Standing Rock serve in Teach for America, which trains teachers to work in low-income communities. Curran said he's aware of only one who did several years ago and she worked at a school in Arizona.
Teach for America has formed similar partnerships with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
On Standing Rock, Teach for America educators work in the McLaughlin School District and in the Rock Creek Grant School in Bullhead, S.D. The organization does not operate in North Dakota schools.
Under the new partnership, however, Teach for America plans to recruit Standing Rock members regardless of the state they reside.
Curran said the organization in the past has not had a major presence at Sitting Bull College, which is based in Fort Yates and is the only tribal college on the reservation. Teach for America aims to change that by working with the school to raise its profile.
The tribal council has given the green light to move forward with the partnership, Curran said.
In a statement, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault said Teach for America will make an impact on the reservation.
"Human capital is crucial to nation building," he said. "We want to encourage more of our young people in college to come back home to help our people."
Joining Teach for America requires a bachelor's degree and a two-year commitment to work at a school in a low-income community. Candidates do not need to have an education degree. If selected, they will receive training by Teach for America before they are placed in a school.